21 May 2021 | The Union Democrat and Becker’s Hospital Review are reporting efforts by Adventist Health Sonora (Calif.) to seek private arbitration in a lawsuit involving the hospital’s president.

The lawsuit was filed by the facility’s philanthropy officer, Nicole Coleman. According to Becker’s, it “accuses the hospital’s president, Michelle Fuentes, of pressuring her to quit a Sonora city committee on social equity or face a job change at the hospital. The lawsuit, which alleges workplace discrimination and retaliation, claimed Ms. Fuentes told Ms. Coleman members of the community sought her resignation from either her role at the hospital or in the committee.”

Attorneys representing Adventist Health Sonora filed a request to have the litigation moved outside court to arbitration, which is allowed by Coleman’s employment contract. Although Coleman waived her contractual right to arbitration, this did not take arbitration off the table, as it can only be waived if both parties wish for it to be removed as an option.

A public filing cited by the Union Democrat said Adventist Health Sonora (AHS) claimed its motion to have the matter settled by arbitration “is made on the grounds that plaintiff signed an agreement with AHSR containing a binding arbitration clause that governs the causes of action alleged in the complaint, and that AHSR is entitled to enforce the agreement.”

“Mrs. Coleman believes that holding AHS’ conduct up to the light is the best way to achieve accountability,” said a statement by Coleman’s legal team. “While it is AHS’ right to assert the arbitration agreement, Mrs. Coleman is disappointed that AHS has chosen to move this dispute to a confidential forum where public access and accountability are not available.”

Adventist Health Sonora told Becker’s it would not comment on the lawsuit as it involved a personnel issue of a current employee at the hospital.

The Union Democrat reached out to Fuentes for comment but she declined the opportunity.

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